People from all walks of life attend a candlelight vigil to remember the earthquake victims organized by the Joint Trade Union Coordination Center at Babormahal, Kathmandu, Nepal, 01 May 2015. EPA/ABIR ABDULLAH/FILE

6.4 magnitude earthquake claims nearly 160 lives in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nov 4 (EFE).- A 6.4 magnitude earthquake has killed nearly 160 people and injured scores in western Nepal, as rescue teams worked tirelessly on Saturday to aid those affected by the overnight tremor.

According to the police, the death toll has risen to 157, with the majority of the victims buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings, including 99 women. Over 160 have sustained injuries.

Police spokesperson Kuber Kadayat told Efe that 105 people died in the worst-affected area, Jajarkot – the epicenter of the earthquake. Fifty-two people lost their lives in West Rukum.

Jajarkot is one of Nepal’s most remote districts with a poor human development index.

Kadayat said the rescue operation reached nearly all affected areas, with expectations that it would continue into Sunday, although the death toll may not increase.

The extent of house damages is yet to be ascertained, but police have reported that more than 4,000 houses, primarily constructed from mud and stone, have suffered damage.

The Nepal Army has deployed five helicopters and an aircraft for rescue operations and relief distribution in the affected areas.

Army spokesperson Brigadier General Krishna Prasad Bhandari told Efe that 33 injured from Jajarkot and West Rukum districts were airlifted to Nepalgunj. Seven injured have been airlifted to Kathmandu.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Jajarkot and Rukum West districts at 23:47 local time on Friday.

Although the US Geological Survey reported a magnitude of 5.6 and a depth of 18 km, the tremors were felt as far away as Kathmandu and 600 km away in the Indian capital, New Delhi.

Mukund Bhattarai, a seismologist from the Geological Department, said the high number of casualties in Jajarkot and West Rukum was a result of the poor housing structures.

“Most of the houses in the areas are of mud and stone and are built in the steep terrain.”

Due to the earthquake occurring at midnight while people were asleep, many were unable to escape in time.

Officials have also noted that rescue operations were hampered by the difficult terrain and took time to reach certain villages on foot due to blocked roads.

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said China and India offered their support for relief and rescue efforts.

The government has allocated a relief package of 100 million Nepali rupees to aid search and rescue missions in the earthquake-affected areas.

Additionally, the government has deployed 41 health workers, including specialist doctors, to provide medical assistance in the affected districts. EFE